Remote Installation and Managing User Profiles using Joomla!

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by Beatrice A. Boateng Kwasi Boateng | July 2010 | Moodle Open Source

We need to migrate our site to a remote server, in order to make our site live for further development. This is absolutely important because we intend to integrate our site with existing social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and this cannot be done in a local environment. Those of us wanting to continue development locally can continue to do so, especially if we do not have a registered domain name and hosting account. We can use the backup process in this article to migrate our site when we are ready to go live.

In this article,by Beatrice A. Boateng and Kwasi Boateng, author of Joomla! Social Networking with JomSocial we will learn how to:

  • Migrate the site from a local machine to a remote server by:
    • Backing up the local site using a Joomla! backup system called Akeeba Backup (formerly known as JoomlaPack)
    • Creating a live website from the backup
  • Sign up for an account
  • Manage user profiles by:
    • Editing user profiles
    • Changing profile pictures
    • Setting profile privacy
    • Adding applications and privacy settings for applications
  • Delete a profile

Migrating the site from a local to remote server

We have reached the stage in the development of our social network where we will migrate our site to a remote host. The migration process involves backing up our entire site, downloading the backup files, and then using them to restore our site in a different hosting environment. This same backup process can be used for routine backups of a Joomla! site as a security measure. It can also be used for the restoration of a site or for switching a site from an old to a new hosting account. These processes are invaluable to a Joomla! website developer.

Backing up the local site using Akeeba Backup

Following are the steps necessary to create an Akeeba Backup:

  1. Download Akeebabackup and the kickstart.php script from the AkeebaBackup website: http://www.akeebabackup.com/download.html.
  2. The Kickstart download is a .zip package. We will have to extract the files to access the kickstart.php file.

  3. Install the Akeebabackup component through the regular Joomla! extension installation process. Akeebabackup is designed to back up the entire website, including database data and website configuration.
  4. Configure the Akeebabackup component by going to Components Akeebabackup | Configuration|.
    Remote Installation and Managing User Profiles using Joomla!

    As shown in the previous screenshot, most of the default settings work well.We should pay attention to the Output Directory and the Archiver engine.The Output Directory is the folder where the backup will be saved; this can be changed if necessary. Take note of this directory, as we will download the archived file after backing up the site. The Archiver engine determines the backup format. The JPA format is recommended for backing up from a Linux environment and restoring it also in a Linux environment.

    We used ZIP format for our backup. Akeeba comes with detailed instructions that can be found in the documentation files. More information can be found on the Akeeba Backup website: http://www.akeebabackup.com/documentation/index.html.

  5. Click on Backup Now to prepare for the backup. This step allows us to name the backup and provide a description of it. We will keep the defaults here.Click on the Backup Now button (on the right) to initiate the backup process.The duration of the backup depends on the size of the website.

    Remote Installation and Managing User Profiles using Joomla!

  6. We will see the following message if the backup process is successful. Click on Administer Backup Files to download the ZIP file.

    Remote Installation and Managing User Profiles using Joomla!

Creating a live website from the backup

Akeeba Backup provides us with a seamless process for restoring websites from backups. The restoration process requires the backup file and a hosting environment, that meets the Joomla! installation requirements. But before we restore our site, we need to log in to our remote server and create a database. To run the restoration, we will need the database name, server information (this could be localhost or a unique hostname), and a database username and password. Make sure that the database user has been assigned all privileges on the database.

We have purchased a hosting account from http://www.hostmonster.com and, as we can see from the following screenshot, the domain is parked. Hostmonster has a good array of open source and proprietary software. One of our favorite Hostmonster services is Simplescript, which is accessible through the Hostmonster Cpanel. This service simplifies the installation and upgrade processes of a select number of open source software applications.

Remote Installation and Managing User Profiles using Joomla!

Let's create a live site from the local backup:

  1. Upload the Akeebabackup.zip file (site backup file) and the kickstart.php file into the root folder of our hosting account. The remote root folder could be public_html, www, htdocs, or a sub-folder, depending on the hosting setup. The upload of the Akeebabackup.zip (site backup file) and the kickstart. php files can be done by using the Control Panel of the hosting account, or through an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) client such as FileZilla. FileZilla is an open source FTP client that can be downloaded from the official website: http://filezilla-project.org/.

    Remote Installation and Managing User Profiles using Joomla!

  2. Run the kickstart.php script by browsing to the site address, for instance, http://www.yourwebsite.com/kickstart.php—in our case, this is http://www.kifari.com/kickstart.php. This will activate the website's restoration wizard online. Keep the default settings and click on Start, as illustrated in the following screenshot. The wizard will walk us through the extraction of the backup files, and complete the migration process. We are not using FTP Options, so we will not put any information in here.Click on Start, and let the wizard do its thing.

    Remote Installation and Managing User Profiles using Joomla!

  3. The wizard will prompt us to enter the correct details as needed. We will be required to enter the database name, hostname, database username, and password. If the installation is successful, we will be prompted to remove the installation directory.
  4. Although the system provides a link to remove the installation directory, we need to check the root folder to make sure that the installation folder has been deleted. We may need to manually remove the folder.

  5. Our website address is http://www.kifari.com; browse to this address.

    Remote Installation and Managing User Profiles using Joomla!

  6. Congratulations! We have migrated our site from the local server to a remote server. Note that our site is restored with its configuration, and administrator username and password intact.

We do not have to install Joomla! for the migration process. The backup file contains all of the necessary files for the complete migration of the website from the local server to the remote server. Once the backup has been installed, we will have the same Joomla! version as we did when the backup was created.

In review, we have restored our development website on a remote server by using the Joomla! backup and restoration component Akeebabackup.

Signing up for an account

It is important to understand the user profile settings as a way of determining what tools are available to users to facilitate their interaction with others in the network. Also, as an administrator we have to understand that interaction among site users depends on how we configure the site, especially in terms of the default user profile settings and the applications that we make available to the users.

Let's create a new profile, by signing up for an account:

  1. Click on Sign Up--Become a Reviewer.
  2. Sign up for an account by clicking on JOIN US NOW, IT'S FREE.

    Remote Installation and Managing User Profiles using Joomla!

  3. Enter the required registration information, and then click on Next. Notice that some of the information is marked with an asterix (*) alongside it. This means that those fields are required. Complete the requirements as set by the administrator.

    Remote Installation and Managing User Profiles using Joomla!

    The registration process also encourages us to upload our image or avatar. We can skip this process and change our image later. We may want to pay attention to the maximum file size and width of the image that we can upload. The maximum file size for uploads that shows here is the maximum size defined in the php.ini file. we set the maximum image upload size to 8 MB? This means that users cannot upload images larger than 8 MB.

    Remote Installation and Managing User Profiles using Joomla!

  4. After we click on Skip, we will get a message stating that an activation link has been sent to our e-mail account. This serves as a verification of the account and an anti-spam mechanism. If we want users to start working on their profile without activating their account, the settings can be changed from the administrative back-end by going to Site Global Configurations | System | User settings|.

    Remote Installation and Managing User Profiles using Joomla!

  5. Click on the Sign Up--Become a Reviewer link. Notice that there are now two users in the system.

    Remote Installation and Managing User Profiles using Joomla!

Managing an account

In this section, we are going to manage a user profile by editing the profile, changing profile pictures and profile privacy settings, and adding applications and privacy settings for those applications.

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Editing the user profile

We have to log in and view the new user's profile, Jackie Newperson's profile. In our case, it is the account we created:

  1. Enter your login information.

    Remote Installation and Managing User Profiles using Joomla!

    There are some links below the Login button, in case we (users) forget our username or password or would like the activation code to be resent to our e-mail. We can use these links to make a request, and the system will send us the information. This applies only to a remote and not a locally hosted installation.

  2. After logging in, the Profile menu is the first one we'll see.
    Remote Installation and Managing User Profiles using Joomla!

The Profile menu is divided into four sections, as follows:

  • Section 1: This is a brief section that shows our image or avatar, and shows when we became a member, when we were last online, and how many people have viewed the profile.
  • Section 2: This section shows the information that we specified during the registration process. Click on the pen icon to edit this information.
  • Section 3: This section contains an image of the "typical" menu items that may be frequently used by users. This is a quick access panel to key menu items that are also available under the menu items—Home, Profile, Friends, Applications, and Inbox. Under My Status you can share your regular thoughts about how you feel, or your status updates. Once you start typing in there, the box becomes editable; click on Save when you are done.
  • Section 4: User activities and plugins (or applications) appear here.

In review, we have just logged in and viewed the first interface of our profile. Let the fun begin! In the following steps, we are going to manage our profile by changing the picture, and editing our profile, our details, and our profile privacy settings. We will also learn how to delete our profiles if we are no longer interested in being a part of this network.

Changing the profile picture

Follow these steps to change our profile picture:

  1. Click on Change profile picture.
  2. Users can always change their profile image. Click on Browse to locate the image that you want to use, and then click on Upload, to upload it to your profile. Notice the image size limit of the following images. The size limit can be changed by the administrator under the configuration section of our social network.
  3. Congratulations, we have just uploaded a new profile image. We look great!

    Remote Installation and Managing User Profiles using Joomla!

  4. Click on the Profile link and notice that we have a new image. The system resizes your image to meet configuration settings and requirements, and creates a thumbnail.

We can edit some of the details entered during the registration process such as our name and password. To edit our details:

  1. Click on Profile Edit details|.
  2. Click on Save when done. We cannot change our username, as shown in the following screenshot.

    Remote Installation and Managing User Profiles using Joomla!

Setting profile privacy settings

The default privacy settings are set to public. The administrator sets the default settings; however, users can opt to keep or change these default privacy settings.

We also have the option to determine the types of e-mails that we receive. We can choose to receive or not receive administrator e-mails that concern network members, notification changes to applications, and wall comments when users comment on our walls.

Remote Installation and Managing User Profiles using Joomla!

The Preferences section allows us to choose the number of activities that should appear on our profile at any given time. If it's more than the specified number, only the latest activities will appear.

Customizing our activities with applications

We have configured our profile. Let's customize it by adding applications to it. Without applications, visitors to the network or our friends cannot see what we do or what our interests are.

  • Click on Applications. There are two groups of applications: Core Applications and Your Installed Applications.
  • The Core Applications are applications that have been installed by the administrator and are a part of the network. Users do not have the option to remove core applications.
  • Your Installed Applications are those applications that users can install themselves, based on what has been made available by the administrator.

To add some applications to our profile:

  1. Click on Browse.
  2. Identify your preferred applications and add them. After adding an application, the system will notify us that an application has been added. Some applications may have settings to configure. It is always important to click on Settings to see whether additional configuration is needed.

    Remote Installation and Managing User Profiles using Joomla!

  3. Click on My Applications to view all of the applications that we have installed.
  4. We can click on Remove to remove applications that we have added, but we cannot disable core applications.
  5. Each application has privacy settings. Click on Privacy to view the privacy options for an application.
    Remote Installation and Managing User Profiles using Joomla!

We have managed our profile by uploading a new image, changing the settings, and adding applications in order to personalize our profile. It is essential to note that our activites are logged under our profile and on the main page of the network. This provides visitors to our site with updates of reviews and user activites, and encourages non-members to join the site.

Deleting a profile

The Profile menu also gives us the option to delete our profile. If we do not like our profile and would like to either create a new one or just get out of the network, this gives us the opportunity to do that. Profile deletions cannot be reversed. The Delete Profile link can be found under any of the sub-menus under the profile.

Remote Installation and Managing User Profiles using Joomla!

Summary

In this article, we learned how to migrate our site from a local machine to a remote host. We created a profile, configured its settings, uploaded new avatars, and added applications. We now have a good insight into the details of a user account. This should help us as administrators to develop this network to meet the needs of the network's users. We are now ready to interact with others.

Joomla! Social Networking with JomSocial Learn how to develop a high quality social network using JomSocial
Published: July 2010
eBook Price: £13.99
Book Price: £21.99
See more
Select your format and quantity:

About the Author :


Beatrice A. Boateng

Beatrice A. Boateng is an Assistant Professor in the department of pediatrics, College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She is also the co-director of faculty development in the department of pediatrics. She holds a doctorate from the Instructional Technology program, College of Education at Ohio University. Beatrice's research interest is in the millennials, instructional technology in medical education, and open sources source tools for education. She has authored articles, book chapters, and a book on technology applications in rural schools.

Kwasi Boateng

Kwasi Boateng is an Assistant Professor at the School of Mass Communication in the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He has a doctorate from The School of Media Arts and Studies (formerly the School of Telecommunications); Scripps College of Communication, Ohio University. Kwasi has research interest in new technologies in electronic communication and open source tools for online communication. He has authored various articles, book chapters, and a book on electronic media. He teaches courses on web design, motion graphics, media and culture, and the Internet regulation and policy. He has worked with students to build websites for non-profit organizations using open source content management systems, and organizes workshops to introduce high and middle school students to open source tools for online communication.

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